Robert AltmanUSA112 minutes1973ColourEnglish
Robert Altman's sardonically revisionist take on Raymond Chandler's gumshoe hero Philip Marlowe offers a stark contrast with the reverent, Robert Mitchum-starring 1975 version of Farewell, My Lovely (screening this season as part of our Mitchum retrospective). Elliott Gould remakes Marlowe as a maladroit mumbler, a shambling hipster-loser who has enough trouble finding his lost cat, never mind a clue. When Marlowe performs a favour for a friend, he finds himself embroiled in a labyrinthine murder case involving a drunken novelist (Sterling Hayden), the writer's much-younger wife (Nina van Pallandt), a quack Dr. Feelgood (Henry Gibson), a Jewish gangster (Mark Rydell), and other assorted L.A. freaks, weirdos, and disreputables en route to a shocking climax in Mexico. Updating the Chandler novel to the 1970s, "Altman constructs not only a comment on the changes in values in America over the last three decades, but a critique of film noir mythology … one of the finest movies of the '70s" (Geoff Andrew, Time Out London).